Good eyesight is truly a blessing, one that you might not understand if you have never been on the other side, that is the bad eyesight side. Unfortunately, aging sometimes comes with an effect that weakens the eyes and vision. These old age eye diseases range from mild to severe which are mostly treatable if they are discovered early. Surgery is usually recommended in severe cases. Late or untreated eye problems can lead to complete or partial vision loss.
The current statistic shows that there is sixty-five percent of people living with an impaired vision and eight two percent of blind people are above the age of fifty. One way to prevent this is to create an awareness of eye disease, especially among the age group where it is prevalent. An awareness program should be closely followed with accessible eye care facilities where people can go for a check-up and have access to good eye treatment. As a form of awareness, we have listed the most common eye disease in older people along with their symptoms and possible treatment.
Common Old Age Eye Diseases
Presbyopia – This disease is related to the inability to see small print or small objects. Presbyopia develops normally over one’s life, the changes might be unnoticeable until age forty and beyond. People with this condition usually hold their reading paper at an arm’s length. This condition comes with tired eyes or headaches while doing any close work or reading. This condition can be corrected by using reading glasses.
Floaters – These are tiny specks or tiny spots that float along the vision field. People mostly notice this when outdoors or in a bright room. Floaters are often normal but sometimes can be indications of problems with the eye like retinal detachment, particularly if they come accompanied by flashes of light. A person who notices sudden flashes or changes in the number or type of spots should see the doctor immediately.
Dry eyes – When the tear glands are unable to secrete enough or quality tears it is usually termed as dry eyes. This condition can be very uncomfortable and causes burning, itching or even vision loss. The doctor may suggest the use of a humidifier at home or specific eye drops that trigger real tears. In severe cases, surgery might be recommended.
Tearing – Excess tears can come due to increased sensitivity to wind, temperature changes, or light. Protecting the eyes by wearing sunglasses or shielding, can be helpful in solving this problem. Tearing may be an indication of serious problems like an infection in the eye or tear duct blockage. Also, dry eyes may get excessively teary when irritated. Both conditions are treatable.
Cataracts – This is a condition that occurs when cloudy areas develop in the front eye lens. This lens is usually clear as that of a camera but cataract would prevent light from passing easily through this lens reaching the back lens (the retina), leading to eyesight loss. Cataracts usually develop slowly, without redness, pain, or eye tearing. Some last for only a short while without altering eyesight. If these cloudy areas become thick or large significantly impacting the vision then it is almost always removable by surgery.
Surgeries on cataracts have a high success rate and is a common surgery done in America and worldwide. The doctor replaces the lens which is clouded with a plastic lens. This restores normal and healthy eyesight.
Glaucoma – This is related to increased eye pressure that can result in permanent blindness or vision loss if untreated. Glaucoma is usually an inherited condition and can also be caused by age, diabetes race and the use of specific medications. There are a few instances when glaucoma is caused by factors like chemical injury or blunt objects, blood vessel blockage, serious eye infection, and inflammation.
Glaucoma patients mostly do not experience any early pain or symptoms from the increased pressure. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the eyes from optic nerve appearance, measuring the pressure in the eyes, and visual field tests. Treatment of this may include eye drops, laser treatment, oral medications, or surgery.
Retinal disorders – Blindness usually result from this disorder. In the eyes, there is a part known as retina which is the thin lining that is found on the behind the eyes and consists of cells that is responsible for detecting and passing visual images to the human brain. This form of disorder interrupts image transfer. Examples of these retinal disorders include diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration.
Corneal diseases – Watery eyes, reduced vision, pain, redness are the symptoms of the diseases. This corner of the eyes is usually a dome-shaped clear “window” located in front of the eyes that help the light entering the eyes to focus. The cornea can be damaged by injury, infection, toxic agents, and diseases. Corneal diseases can be treated by using prescribed eye drops or in some cases surgery.
Temporal arteritis – Arteries at the temporal region of one’s forehead other body areas may get infected or obstructed causing the condition known as temporal arteritis. The symptoms may include severe headache, tender temple area, and pain during chewing. Patients may also experience hip or shoulder weakness, scalp tenderness, and chronic fever. Sudden and permanent vision loss may result. Temporal arteritis is common in old women.
Eye problems can be prevented by going for regular check-ups so that if their diseases that may possibly lead to eye problems can be treated early.
Older people are encouraged to visit an ophthalmologist once or twice a year. Having frequent eye exams helps in detecting eye disease when they are still in their early stages and are easily treated.
Pupil dilation or enlargement exam should be conducted especially if there is a family history of diabetes.
Blurred vision, vision loss, double vision, eye swelling, redness, or fluid flow should be reported immediately.
People with a family history of old age eye disease are usually at higher risk and should pay close attention to their eyesight. There are still a number of people with good eyesight at old age but it is almost inevitable that such people will develop one or two of the mild cases of eye problems towards their well-advanced ages.